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Like that one scene from The Empire Strikes Back, hauling all my gear around sometimes makes me feel like I’ve got Yoda on my back, nagging at me to become a faster, stronger Jedi (oh, how I wish I were a Jedi!). All my stuff can be a burden when I’m traversing the city on foot or cycling up hills. Timbuk2’s Hemlock backpack helps lighten the load while reminding me that backpacks don’t have to be big and ugly to be practical.
When I go out after work each day, I carry my yoga clothes, a pair of flats, a water bottle and coffee mug, a full-size makeup bag, chargers and USB cables, a wallet, and a small purse. Usually I’ve got two bags with me for this purpose, but the Hemlock carried it all—and really comfortably, too. My 15-inch MacBook Pro also stayed safely nestled in its own padded, side-loading compartment in the back.
Fortunately, just because this bag can haul a ton of stuff doesn’t mean it’ll weigh you down. The Hemlock is made out of sturdy, lightweight nylon fabric. The cavernous main compartment rolls up and closes with velcro—its gigantic size allows you to carry large and bulky cargo, giving the impression that the Hemlock can fit an infinite amount of stuff. For smaller stuff, there’s a pocket on the front, while an external pocket for your bike lock doubles as water-bottle storage. And speaking of bottles, there’s an on-strap bottle opener for on-the-go Mexican Coke cravings (or, if you’d prefer, beer).
Of course, with such a huge main compartment, you’ll be rooting around in there to grab something on the fly. Unraveling the main compartment while at Starbucks delayed those in line behind me, but the Hemlock’s massive capacity doesn’t come without a price. At least the grey interior makes it a little easier to see inside the bag.
The bottom line. For over-haulers like me, this bag is the best bet for getting everything from one place to another. Still, a couple more accessible front pockets would be nice.
Stuff to carry
Massive main compartment fits virtually your entire life. Sturdy, comfortable straps. Roomy, side-loading laptop compartment. Medium size fits 17-inch MacBook Pro.
Front pocket isn’t easily accessible without swiveling the bag around. Things tend to get lost in that big compartment.